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How do I become a gardener?

Peregrine

Troubadour
G.R.R.M

I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house. They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they're going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there's going to be. They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up. The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of know what seed it is, they know if planted a fantasy seed or mystery seed or whatever. But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don't know how many branches it's going to have, they find out as it grows. And I'm much more a gardener than an architect.

I ask this because I have the worldbuilder's disease. I have the urge to write everything on paper because I feel that I will forget my creative ideas, but I think the urge comes from being to attached to the importance of my ideas like its a Gollum's ring.
 

Holman

Minstrel
Writing things on paper is not necessarily planning like an architect, those pieces of paper are the elements of your garden - the flowers, bushes, trees and paths.

Just try writing for longer on one of your ideas and see where it takes you, this may help you follow one of those paths through the garden. Whether you will be a gardener or not - who knows but you will at least take a journey.
 

WooHooMan

Auror
Do you plan-out plots or only settings?
Even though I hate this metaphor Martin is going with, I think I'd qualify as an architect and so far that's worked pretty well for me. But only because I carefully plan-out both the setting and the plot (usually both at the same time so that they influence one another).

Call me biased but I think that you would want to be more of an architect.
Gardeners require luck or "natural" talent in order to write a good story. And those are two things few people have and the ones who have it have little control over it. I find that most gardeners just fumble their way around an idea germ and hope it turns-out alright. And if it does, they need to hope the next story also turns-out alright.
Architects try things out, revise and get feedback (which are things anyone can do). And really, the key to getting better at anything tends to be trying things out, reworking your strategy when it doesn't work and improving on your strategy when it does work.
 

Peregrine

Troubadour
WooHooMan, is it maybe best to be a little both or I am just plain wrong?

The settings only.

I do not think that I am talented.

Yes I am a strong architect because I dwell into details, I brainstorm every aspect and I usually overthink.

Holman, I did not say that I actually preoccupy with writing about worldbuilding, not the story. The list of names, cities, the map, the creatures.
 
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WooHooMan

Auror
WooHooMan, is it maybe best to be a little both or I am just plain wrong?
You're right. Also, not only can you be both but there are other options. That's the problem with the metaphor. It's a false dichotomy.

Anyways, you either got to move onto a medium that's setting only (such things do exist) or develop a taste for writing stories. Maybe try to write some non-fantasy stuff.
 

elemtilas

Inkling
You're right. Also, not only can you be both but there are other options. That's the problem with the metaphor. It's a false dichotomy.

Call it a partial dichotomy. There's more than one way to grow a garden and more than one way to build a house.

Consider the formal garden: https://www.paramountplants.co.uk/b...2014/05/ariel-view-parterre-queluz-palace.jpg

and the wild garden: http://cdni.condenast.co.uk/1440x96...-conde-nast-traveller-15may15-pr_1440x960.jpg

A garden of annuals: http://www.creativedesignsco.com/sitebuilder/images/Summer_landscape_photos_0112-734x533.jpg

and garden of trees: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-fCAwPoH9y.../MjTxSTXJhss/s1600/Olive_trees_on_Thassos.JPG

Different aims, different approaches, different skillsets. Some gardening requires the planning and careful execution of the architect; others more or less grow themselves. Some require planning only for this year; others require an outlook of centuries or longer.

There's no reason a gardener type can't also plan with some level of meticulous care; there's also no reason an architect type can not allow for some wild space as well.
 

Penpilot

Staff
Article Team
I don't necessarily think you can become a gardener if your natural tendency is to be an architect and vice versa. An architect can learn to garden a bit and an gardener can learn to architect a bit, but I don't think one can be become the other completely.

For myself, I'm naturally a gardener. When I finished my first novel it was a mess that I didn't have the skills to fix it. But I was reading every writing book I could get my hands on, about structure, plotting, etc. So with my second novel, I tried to plan everything out.

Though the results were way better, I found, that I was continually veering from my plans because I kept thinking of better and better things on the fly and was constantly revising my outline. I actually had to throw out the last half of the first draft because I wasn't satisfied with what I had initially planned out.

Over the years, I've worked out what elements of planning work for me and what don't. Still a work in progress, but I understand what I need to plan out and what I can come up with on the fly. I plan out the big picture stuff, the broad strokes of the story, the character arcs, and each chapter, but everything else I'll come up with on the fly. Even then, I'm constantly revising my outline as better things come to mind.

What I found is that learning to architect a bit allowed me to better organise myself and set me up to make changes easier. So I'm kind of a hybrid, but I'm still a gardener at heart.

As for how to not get caught up in world builder's disease, best way to do that is to learn to let go and say it's good enough--it never is--but try and write a short story without much planning. The results will probably be no too good, but with multiple tries, this will help you to figure out what works best for you.

You'll learn to how much is enough for you.

Just as a gardener has to learn to better organise so they don't create such a big mess, an architect has to learn when to just go with it, let it be a bit messy, because you can always fix it later.
 
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skip.knox

toujours gai, archie
Moderator
I resist calling myself a plotter, pantser, architect, gardener, right-brained, left-brained or hare-brained. I resist because the sentences always say "I am" -- a phrase that implies a state of stasis.

I'm always happy to talk about what I do. I find that much more constructive, not least because it leaves open the possibility that tomorrow I may do something quite different.
 

DeathtoTrite

Troubadour
Honestly, I feel this is GRRM's biggest weakness-- especially around books 4-5 when he was big enough to not need an editor. I have nothing against natural evolution, etc. But trim it down so that its concise. GoT risks being more jungle than garden, to extend the analogy. But this could definitely be a result of my day job being about as left-brain analytical as it comes.
 
Some truth there, but on the other hand, from some of the rumors I've heard about his original plans, I'm glad he changed them, LOL. Not that I know if those were true. I'm hoping not.

Honestly, I feel this is GRRM's biggest weakness-- especially around books 4-5 when he was big enough to not need an editor. I have nothing against natural evolution, etc. But trim it down so that its concise. GoT risks being more jungle than garden, to extend the analogy. But this could definitely be a result of my day job being about as left-brain analytical as it comes.
 

Mythopoet

Auror
Honestly, I feel this is GRRM's biggest weakness-- especially around books 4-5 when he was big enough to not need an editor. I have nothing against natural evolution, etc. But trim it down so that its concise. GoT risks being more jungle than garden, to extend the analogy. But this could definitely be a result of my day job being about as left-brain analytical as it comes.

Same with J. K. Rowling.

Personally, whenever I hear anyone say "there are two types of people..." alarm bells go off in my head. Unless they are making a joke, then they are just flat wrong. There are NEVER only two types of people in any context. People are much too diverse for that. And writing styles aren't a duality. There aren't just architects and gardeners. There are also cooks and potters and weavers and so much more. It's a spectrum with infinite points along the line. There are as many ways to approach writing as there are writers. We are all unique. It's ok to try to emulate other writers' styles when you are starting out and trying to learn. But if you never find your own style and your own way of telling your story then you will never achieve greatness.
 
Personally, whenever I hear anyone say "there are two types of people..." alarm bells go off in my head. Unless they are making a joke, then they are just flat wrong. There are NEVER only two types of people in any context.

There are two types of people.

Those who say "there are two types of people..." and mean what they say, and those who say alarm bells go off whenever that phrase is used because there are never only two type of people in any context. And then there are the third type, who hear those alarm bells but use the phrase anyway because it's sometimes useful in context.

_______

As for the context of this thread....I think Penpilot is probably right to say that different authors naturally trend in one direction or the other and aren't likely to be able to switch back and forth with ease. At least when starting out. When starting out, both directions might be difficult, heh. Learning which approach will pay off best might be a process with lots of twists and turns and failures and obstacles. I think that with more experience, as the successes begin to pay off, an author is more likely to be able to try out his non-standard approach with some success.

I'm not sure the two approaches are mutually exclusive. Someone on the Writing Excuses podcast once compared the pantser's (gardener's) first draft to the planner's (architect's) outline. The avowed architect still has to run over many ideas, brainstorm, try to fit things together, when writing that outline–and may need to revise many parts of that outline during this process. This isn't entirely different than the gardener's method of brainstorming and trial-and-error when writing the first draft without an outline. When the gardener begins revising that first draft, he'll take what he's discovered during writing it and begin to restructure, move things around, add and delete things: basically, as if he's working from an outline. As if that first draft is the outline.

I don't know how well that view will stand up over time for different authors, but it's something that stuck in my brain when I heard it.
 

Holman

Minstrel
There are 10 types of people, those that understand binary and those that don't.

Aside from being a very poor joke, there is a point. Your writing style depends very much on your own view of how things are put together. Some people can sit and watch a film and pick out the various plot points as they come along, being all technical and using industry jargon, others will sit and watch the film and identify the moments that they realised what was happening, and when they knew what was going to happen next. Even to the point of saying a characters next line because there is no other response that can be given. Between the two extremes are a whole myriad of possibilities which use a combination of outlining and instinct to produce something.

Regardless of how they started they all have to go through the editing phase, it will probably be at this point that they wish they were the other type of writer, but if they were the story would not necessarily be the story that it is. If you are happy(ish) with what you produce then who the hell cares whether you planned it to the nth detail or just sat at the bottom of your garden and wrote it in your pants.
 

Helen

Inkling
I ask this because I have the worldbuilder's disease. I have the urge to write everything on paper because I feel that I will forget my creative ideas, but I think the urge comes from being to attached to the importance of my ideas like its a Gollum's ring.

Architect vs gardener sounds romantic, but I don't think that's how it works.

Anyway, if you do want to "garden," you just write and incrementally build from your material.
 

Ruru

Troubadour
I agree that the dichotomy of the gardener: architect is a bit simplistic. There seem to be as many author types as there are authors.

Using the gardening analogy however, I have one problem, being more of this sort of ilk than the other. I started with a story 12 years ago, that should have been basic, but was never plot lined. It was allowed to grow, and because I feed it the fertilizer of every book I could get my hands on, it grew like a weed. Out of control and in all directions.

Now I have finally sealed off Part One, 115,000 words later. This covered point one of what has become a 26 point plot line. Its been a very organic process, and a lot of creative fun, but I feel there were definitely points where a bit of architecture in the mix may not have been a bad thing :D

I'm trying this now, laying out a more structured plot line, and I think that this might help me. Its probably a great way of breaking a writers block I imagine; plot lining a bit if you don't normally, or letting the garden grow wild if you normally structure a lot :)
 
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